Interview with #Author Carole Parkes…

I was born in Liverpool, England in 1945, after the war had ended. Seventy years later, I can look back on a life that is mainly a happy one.

Carole Parkes

Question: What is your impression of your childhood?

I had a happy childhood. When I reflect on it now, I know that was mostly due to having a really loving father. I never realized it when I was a child, but my mum suffered depression which led to often repeated bouts of crying. It was my dad who we went to whenever we needed anything. He put plasters on our cuts and grazes, rocked us on his knee while he sang a lullaby, and gave us a donkey ride up the stairs to bed. It was only in later years I began to ask why mum never cuddled us or took us to bed. Now I’m older, I can understand my mum more.

Both my parent’s worked full time in factories, but they never had much money until mum’s uncle left her some in his will. They bought a holiday caravan and car, something rare in our city neighbourhood. Every weekend we would go off to the Welsh seaside and while my dad, my brothers, and I loved it, it meant a lot of extra work for mum. She had to get all the washing, ironing, shopping and housework done in the evenings after work. As she had to be in work for seven o’clock every morning, she didn’t get time to relax. Dad always washed the dishes but the rest was left to mum. My brothers and I were too busy playing on the sand hills and in the sea to notice and, of course, in those 1950s days women were expected to do the housework. Of course, when I was young I didn’t know that mum was an only child who lost her loving dad when she was only fifteen and then lost her mum three years later. Luckily, she’d met my dad before her mum died and he made her a promise he’d look after her daughter. I think losing her parents so young led to her depression.

I laugh every time I see this photo. My knitted costume used to fill up with water like a balloon whenever I went into the sea. The weight of it would pull my costume almost down to by waist. Young as I was, it used to embarrass me.


Question: Where were you educated?

I started at Whitefield Road, County Primary school when I was five and attended there until I was eleven. I failed my 11+ examination so I went to Newsham Secondary Modern School. While there, I was one of only two pupils to pass the 13+ examination, a second chance exam to catch the late developers like myself. Although I’d chosen to attend Technical College, when I passed I was sent to the highly regarded Holly Lodge Grammar School for Girls.

I was really disappointed about this because I was interested in art, design, and crafts not in academic subjects. The other girl who passed with me was always top of the class. Despite her choosing Grammar School, she was allocated a place at Technical College. I kicked up such a stink about it my parents queried the placement. They were told I had scored higher marks than the other girl so I was best suited for the Grammar School. Personally, I always thought there must have been a mix up on this as unlike the other girl; I was never in the top six of our class.

The first year there, we had none of the lessons I craved. Art, needlework, and gymnastics were put on hold until our class of 13 plusers, as we were known, caught up to the other thirteen year olds who’d been at the grammar school for two years. Not surprisingly, I rebelled. Whenever I could I’d miss lessons and, of course, I was found out and reprimanded. I hated the school so much that I left at Easter time instead of at the end of summer term. My parents even had to pay £10 for me to leave early. I often wonder how the other girl’s life turned out after she attended Technical College instead of the Grammar School she’d set her sights on.

Question: What work did you do after school?

After school, my life was pretty humdrum apart from marrying and having three sons. I’d trained as a tailoress and then worked in clothing manufacturer’s design rooms as a sample machinist, but this was on and off. Mostly, I was a housewife and as my children were becoming less dependent I began wondering how I would have done if I’d stayed and taken my exams. On my fortieth birthday I decided to go back into education and work for some qualifications. After gaining my ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels, I started a degree in Social Science. I thought I was finally going to get a career, but boy, was I mistaken.


Question: What events have impacted most on your life?

Obviously, my marriage and giving birth to my three children were huge events. I always believed that since they were our children, it was entirely up to us to look after them. Our roles naturally split into me as housewife while my husband went to work to earn the money. Neither my husband nor I have ever resented each other’s roles. Although he sometimes got the weekend off while I never, I had full freedom to make choices about my working day which he didn’t.

The birth of our grandchildren also figured highly in our lives. We looked after one of our granddaughters two days a week from when she was six months old until she was about five, then one day a week until last summer. Our other grandchildren live too far away for us to help with them.

The next biggest event was my husband’s heart attack which he suffered at the age of only forty three. His working life was now over, and my ambitions to qualify for a degree were put on hold because he was so ill, I was reluctant to leave him alone at home. For months he couldn’t walk from the house to the car, and we were worried he’d have another heart attack. He wasn’t expected to live longer than ten years at the most, but happily for us both, that health scare was twenty six years ago.

Another event was celebrating our fiftieth wedding anniversary this year. With my husband’s ongoing health problems we never expected to get to this point but happily we have. We have a long way to go though to beat my parent’s marriage of seventy five years.


Question: What first inspired you to write?

I wrote my first story when my little boy wanted a bike for Christmas one year, and it was out of the question for us to give him one at the time. Looking at the knitted toys his nana always made for him, I devised a story whereby his knitted toys had a specific magic power. This made the previously ridiculed knitted toys more favourable to his friends than the bikes they already owned, and they all wanted what he had. I ended up writing a series about each one of his knitted toys. I’ve never published those, but started writing regularly then.

Question: What else have you written?

Since then I’ve written several short stories, many factual family history articles, my autobiography and my novel ‘Tissue of Lies’ which I self published. I’ve also co-written and edited a second book due to be published 23rd December 2015 and titled ‘Your Last Breath’. This last one was written with Doug Lafuze, an up and coming author from Nebraska, USA. As I live in Lancashire, England, Doug and I have never met, but we have exchanged plenty of emails over this past year. Our book ‘Your Last Breath’ only took eight weeks from inception to completing our first draft, but it has taken a further eight months to get it to publishing standard.

Question: What is your new book about?

It’s about misfit turned serial killer, Raymond Lang. He was raised in West Virginia, but fled to London when the police were on his tail. Despite other people’s perception of him, he never set out to be a serial killer. He dreams of being an author, of writing a thriller full of suspense. He’s tried many times to write about the gruesome murders he visualizes so clearly in his mind but, somehow, when it comes to writing it down, the sharp images fade and it’s as if he’s viewing the scenes through a mist.

All that changes when, by chance, he realizes what motivates him. His writing inspiration only comes in the precise moment he breathes in his victim’s last exhaling breath. If he wants to continue writing, he must release his darker side and make it happen. Now, he won’t stop this blood-lust until his novel is completed, but can he finish it before he’s caught?

He’s clever, continually outwitting those chasing him. Even so, he should have known he couldn’t get away with it forever, should have seen his retribution coming, but it still takes him by surprise. Thwarted in his dream, he’s beyond furious. Now, no-one is safe…

If you’d enjoy a fast paced, suspenseful plot involving gruesome murders, blackmail, a car chase, a kidnap, and the sleazy actions of a top politician, then this book is for you. (Adult 18+)

YLB          ToL

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